The massive Castle Hill wind farm proposed for northern Wairarapa is unlikely to be built for at least five years because of a lack of electricity demand, the project’s owner, Genesis Energy, says.
Resource consent hearings for the giant wind farm, which could power up to 370,000 homes, began in November and ended last month.
In January, Genesis said that if it were granted consent for the 286 turbines, each up to 155 metres tall, it would contribute $750,000 to a community fund.
Yesterday chief executive Albert Brantley said that irrespective of the resource consent process the company was unlikely to build any new generation projects for years, and when it did there was no guarantee the next project would be Castle Hill.
“We don’t believe there’s a requirement to build new generation in the short term,” Mr Brantley said, although the company would continue the consenting process so it was in the position to “fill the void” when more generation was needed.
Mr Brantley said Genesis believed New Zealand’s generation market was currently “saturated” by recently completed power plants and flat electricity demand. This meant it was unlikely the company, which is owned by the government, would build any new projects for about five years.
He said Castle Hill had “superb” wind characteristics, but it was only one option for future Genesis projects, with plans being developed for geothermal and gas-powered plants.
“We’re carrying all three options forward, it just happens to be that Castle Hill is the one that we’re talking about because we’re in the consenting process.”
David Nelson, chairman of the Castle Hill Wind Farm Community Action Group, said any possible resource consent would have a lapse period in which the wind farm would have to be built, but it was possible the community would face years of uncertainty.
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